21 Jul

How to Make Money Arbitrage Betting on Sports

How to Make Money Arbitrage Betting on Sports - How to Use Arbitrage Betting at Online SportsbooksArbitrage betting is a classic wagering technique utilized by the most dedicated punters. The concept behind it is simple. Actually finding opportunities to exploit it – that’s the hard part. For those truly devoted to the cause, it’s worth the effort. Of all the possible ways to gamble, arbitrage is the only guaranteed way to win.

How to Use Arbitrage Betting at Online Sportsbooks

Arbitrage betting sounds like one of those ‘too good to be true’ systems. In reality, it’s the most successful betting strategy you can employ. You place multiple bets on different sides of the same event, at different prices. No matter the outcome, you make a profit. It does work, but as you’re about to learn, it’s no picnic.
  1. Concept of Arbitrage: It’s all about finding different prices at different sportsbooks. When two sportsbooks set opposite teams as the underdog, you’re looking at easy money.
  2. Is This for Real?: Arbitrage is absolutely real. It’s made possible by the simple fact that sportsbooks are constantly shifting the lines to hedge their own bets.
  3. Doing the Math: To know if you’ve found a good series of odds or not, you’ll have to do a little math. It’s easy enough, so long as you understand how to read odds.
  4. How to Find ‘Arbs’: The hardest part about arbitrage betting is finding them. They are rare to begin with, and when they do appear, they don’t last long. Vigilance and patience will pay off.
  5. Safety First!: Before you dive in, signing up accounts with every sportsbook you find, please read this critical note on internet gambling safety…
DisclaimerNot all forms of gambling are legal in all provinces of Canada. The legal age to gamble also varies by province. Breaking the law is a serious matter. The information provided on this website is meant for educational purposes only, and we will not be held liable for any irresponsible / illegal activity on your part. Know the gambling laws in your province and follow them. The following pages provide more information on Canadian gambling laws:


1. Learn How Arbitrage Betting Works

When I first learned of this concept years ago, I immediately thought “arbitrage” was just a fancy word for “hedge” betting. So, to clarify, they are not the same thing.

Hedge betting is to bet both sides of a contest in order to minimize the risk of serious loss. If one side wins, you make a small profit. If the other side wins, you only lose a small amount.

Arbitrage betting is not about minimizing risk, but guaranteeing profit. When done correctly – something this entire document is aimed at teaching you to do – arbitrage betting is the only gambling strategy on the planet that can guarantee this, because there is absolutely no risk involved. No matter what happens – no matter who wins or loses – you will make money arbitrage betting on sports.

The Concept of Arbitrage

The idea is to place a series of bets on multiple outcomes revolving around a single contest. To be effective, you must find positive odds on each bet you place.

Think of it this way. We all know that betting the underdog will pay the most money. What if both sides were given underdog odds? What if a $100 bet on Team A or Team B would win $125? That would be crazy, right? No sportsbook would ever post such odds. Everyone would bet both sides and come out $25 richer. That’s the catch – you won’t find these odds on both teams at the same sportsbook; or any sportsbooks employing the same odds maker; or under the same wing of the same parent company.

Like I said, this isn’t an easy task. It means doing your homework, and a lot of it. You’ll need to research a multitude of sporting events, across an abundance of bookmakers. Unless you’re retired, planning to make a career out of it, or willing to pay for info, it could be more time and effort than you’re ready to spare.

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2. Shifting Lines Make the Betting World Go Round

The first question so many people ask after learning about how to make money with arbitrage betting is, “How?” How is it possible that two bookmakers would have such different odds? There are thousands of land-based and online sportsbooks, but only a few odds makers setting the lines. That means you’re likely to find the exact same odds at a plethora of bookie sites.

When a line is first set, yes, they are going to match very closely – but not evenly. The difference comes when each sportsbook starts taking bets on a contest. Before I get into how the lines shift, you need to understand how bookmakers earn their profits.

How Bookies Make Money

If you’ve investigated sports odds before, you’ve surely noticed that they are not equal. If they were, each team’s odds would add up to 4.00. Without a favorite, they would be set at 2.00 on one side, and 2.00 on the other; each worthy of a 1 to 1 payout. The problem here is that if half of the punters bet one side, and half the other – which is exactly what the bookmaker wants to happen – they wouldn’t make any money. That’s why the odds are set just below equal value. On an even match up, they will be posted at 1.90 to 1.90. If there’s a favorite, you might see 1.85 to 1.95, or 1.80 to 2.00. This is how bookmakers collect their profit, by diminishing the odds to mimic a charge of commission (a.k.a. juice or vig).

Sportsbooks are taking a big risk by doing this. If most of the punters bet the same side, and those bets all win, the bookie stands to lose a lot of money. This is why the lines shift, especially on the most popular bets.

Shifting the Lines

Imagine that the lines are even for each team. Half the punters bet on Team A, and half bet on Team B. The bookie is sure to make lots of money, thus the lines don’t shift. But when too many punters are betting one side of a match, they will shift the lines to encourage betting on the other side. In this way, sportsbooks are the one hedging their bets to minimize the risk. They would much rather win by a small margin than lose anything at all.

Your job, as a strategic arbitrage bettor, is to watch those lines like a hawk. The moment they shift far enough to secure the profitable double-sided bet, place it. The profit margin will be small, so the larger your bankroll is, the more you can make.

That being said, if you’re considering a professional sports betting career, you’re going to need thousands of dollars just to get started. As they say, it takes money to make money.

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3. How to Calculate Arbitrage Bets

How do you know if you’ve found a good opportunity? The odds will tell the story, but you need to understand what you’re looking at. To ensure you’re profit is equal on either side, you’ll need to do some calculations. Unless you’re really good with multiplying and dividing decimals and percentages in your head, I strongly suggest using a calculator. In fact, if you’re serious about learning how to use arbitrage betting strategies, I want you to open up the calculator app on your phone right now and follow alon I’ll try to keep it simple.

Let’s say you’re betting on a tennis match between two star players. We’ll call them John and Steve. They’re pretty evenly matched, so Bookie 1 has the odds set at 1.90 for John, and 1.90 for Steve. (Note that tennis matches do not end in a tie, which is why I chose it. In other sports, if a tie does occur, your bet is returned – no win, no loss.)

Odds at Bookie 1
Straight Win Bet
Straight Win Bet
John to Win
Steve to Win

If you aren’t sure how to read European Decimal Odds, you’ll want to check out this page before you go any further…

Either way you bet, you’re hoping to make a 90% profit. If you bet $100, you’ll get $190 back – $100 for the return of your original bet, plus $90 as your winnings.

Now let’s take a look at the odds a Bookie 2. Maybe they’ve been getting a lot of wagers on John to win, so they’re shifting the line to encourage more bets on Steve.

Odds at Bookie 2
Straight Win Bet
Straight Win Bet
John to Win
Steve to Win

If you bet on Steve with Bookie 2, a $100 bet would return $215. That’s a profit of $115. Here we have an opportunity to bet both sides and guarantee a win. But you can’t just bet $100 on John at Bookie 1, and $100 on Steve at Bookie 2. You have to do the math, and here’s why…

When You do it the Wrong Way…
  • $100 bet on John loses.
  • $100 bet on Steve wins, returning $215.
  • Total Bet $200
  • Total Return = $215
  • Result = $15 Profit
That worked out great, making a nice little profit. But what would have happened if John had won?
  • $100 bet on John wins, returning $190
  • $100 bet on Steve loses.
  • Total Bet = $200
  • Total Return = $190
  • Result = $10 Loss

That didn’t work out too well, did it? You lost $10. That’s because there was still an element of risk (i.e. hedge betting), albeit a small one. As we already discussed, arbitrage betting eliminates all element of risk. That’s where the math comes in.

Exact Bet Sizing to Eliminate the Risk

We need to find the middle ground here. In this case, we can either win $15 or lose $10. If we subtract the potential loss from the potential profit (15 – 10), we get $5. Now split that down the middle (5 / 2) and the median is $2.50. That is the amount we want to be able to win, no matter which player comes out on top.

To find out the appropriate bet size on each player, we first need to come up with two factors – the Individual Arbitrage Percentage (IAP) and the Total Arbitrage Percentage (TAP).

Finding the Individual Arbitrage Percentage (IAP)

The formula for IAP is:

(1 / Odds) x 100 = IAP

Note that if you are not reading your odds in decimal format, this will not work. Either learn to convert them to decimal, or use a free online odds converter.

For the match between John and Steve, we have 1.90 odds on John, and 2.15 odds on Steve. Let’s inject those into the formula.

John’s IAP

(1 / 1.9) x 100 = 0.005263

Turn that into a percentage (move the decimal two spaces left) and you get a 52.63% IAP.

Steve’s IAP

(1 / 2.15) x 100 = 0.004651

Converted to a percentage, 46.51% IAP.

Finding the Total Arbitrage Percentage (TAP)

Now that we have the IAP for each, we get the TAP by adding the two IAPs together.

IAP-1 + IAP-2 = TAP

In this case…

52.63% + 46.51% = 99.14% TAP

What you’re looking for is a TAP below 100%. So long as it’s below 100%, you’ve found an opportunity to arbitrage. The lower the number is, the better the opportunity. In this case, it’s a very slim margin. As I said above, you can only expect to make $2.50 for every $100 wagered on this. You would need a mighty fine bankroll to pull a high-end profit from that.

Ideally, you want the TAP to be 98% and under. So if you found those lines on John and Steve, you might want to sit back and keep a close eye on it. If the lines shift further to something like 1.85 John and 2.30 Steve, then you’d have a real opportunity on your hands.

(1 / 1.90) x 11 = 52.63% IAP

(1 / 2.25) x 100 = 44.44% IAP

52.63 + 44.44 = 97.07% TAP

How to Size Your Bets

The final formula you need throws the IAPs and TAPs into a bucket and churns out the correct size bet for each side. You start by multiplying the total amount of money you want to invest by IAP, then divide by TAP to get the required bet size.

(Investment x IAP) / TAP = Stake

We do this for each bet. Assuming the lines shifted enough to get the favorable 97.07% TAP (1.90 on John, 2.25 on Steve), and you intend to invest $200 in all, it would look like this.

Stake on John

($200 x 52.63%) / 97.07% = $108.44 bet required

Stake on Steve

($200 x 44.44%) / 97.07% = $91.56 bet required

The return for either side wining would be…

  • John Wins: Return $206.36

  • Steve Wins: Return $206.01

Either way, you’re looking at about a 3% profit on your total investment ($6 on $200).

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4. Where and How to Find Arbs

This is, by far, the most tedious and time consuming aspect of arbitrage in sports betting. I stated above that good opportunities are rare. It’s not that they are uncommon. In fact, it happens quite a lot. The problem is that you are not alone in this quest, and as quickly as they appear, enough people are betting them to shift the lines back into balance. Not only must you be devoted to the search, you must be quick to take advantage when you find them.

As for how to go about finding them, you have three general options.

  • Your Own Research

  • Other People’s Research

  • Paid Alerts

  • Tracking Software

Do Your Own Research

This is certainly the most difficult option, but it can yield the best rewards. To pull it off, you’re going to need multiple accounts with different online sportsbooks. They cannot be affiliated with one another, either. Coral, Crystalbet and Ladbrokes, for example, are all owned by the same parent company, GVC Holdings, therefore their odds will not shift autonomously.

I would recommend downloading the mobile app for each of your bookie operations. Most of them will allow you to set up notifications for different occurrences across your chosen events and sports markets. Be sure to allow ‘Push Notifications’ from each of these apps so you don’t miss out on the alerts you want to see.

Aside from that, you’ll just have to be vigilant. Check the lines often, especially on events that are scheduled to begin soon. Shifts tend to occur more heavily when a line is about to close.

Rely on Other People’s Research

This actually isn’t a bad choice, but it does have its pitfalls. On the positive side, it takes a lot of time and grunt work out of the equation. You can simply make regular visits to websites and forums dedicated to the cause, and believe me, a lot of people who find good arbs are happy to brag about it. On the down side, publicly posting about them means their lifespan is going to be cut very short. If you don’t see the message within a few minutes of its posting, you probably already missed the opportunity.

Pay for Alert Messages

This is the same as relying on other people to do the grunt work, except that you’re also paying those people to tell you about it. It’s one of the easiest methods, but not the most reliable; not to mention it will dig into your profits. If you go this route, don’t be stingy – get a good one, and believe me, the good ones will cost more. Be quick to respond when an alert comes in, because you’re not the only one getting it. For this and the following method described, you’ll need a good size bankroll to offset the cost.

Subscribe to Tracking Software

This is another method of paying for arb alerts. You can subscribe to software services that track the lines at a variety of online sportsbooks. Again, you’ll receive alerts when an opportunity is available at whatever sites the software tracks, so make sure Push Notifications are turned on. It’s a great option if you’re quick and betting enough cash to make up for the cost. I would suggest researching the software services available to compare different aspects – sportsbooks covered, range of clientele, price points, etc.

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5. An Important Word about Online Sportsbook Safety

Whenever you’re dealing with online finances, you have to know that you’re working in a safe environment. Unfortunately, the online gambling industry doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to crooked operators. The situation has improved dramatically over the last two decades, but rogue websites still exist, and arbitrage betting is one of the paths on which you’re most likely to find them.

This is the only gambling strategy that requires punters to join a significant number of websites. Not only that, they need to offer a variety of odds, meaning they don’t all employ the same regional odds maker. This is where you have to be especially careful in choosing your sportsbooks.

I’ve always lauded the reputability of iGaming operators licenses and regulated by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), or any provincially-run operation within Canada (but they can’t offer straight bets). This time, you may have to broaden the horizon to get enough action going.

Tips To Keep You Safe

Here are some tips to guide you through the process as safely as possible.

  • Start with UK and Malta licensed operators that aren’t displaying the exact same odds.

  • Seek out more independent operators regulated by European jurisdictions (Alderney, Cyprus, Estonia, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Latvia, etc.)

  • Avoid any operator licensed in Costa Rica or Panama – period.

  • Only join an operator licensed in Antigua and Barbuda, or Curacao, if it’s been in operation a minimum of 5 years, and has a good reputation among actual players. Check the iGaming forums for player reports.

  • Make sure that Canadian members are accepted.

  • Check the range of payment methods available to make sure you can move money in and out easily.

  • If you see Interac (a.k.a. Interac Online, Interac eTransfer) on the list, you can join with confidence. The Canada-exclusive Interac payment service only does business with international institutions of upstanding report and strict regulatory compliance.

For more information as to why some regulators are and are not worthy of your business, please see the following page. It is geared towards online casino gambling, but the information equally relevant to arbitrage betting at online sportsbooks.

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